Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The GHORBA Even Bigger Big Ring Challenge Part II: Run whatcha brung and own the stupid.

Before I begin I would like to point out that I don't race.  You may find yourself asking "but you raced?"  That is true, I did, however had either the Wild Azalea Trail Challenge or Even Bigger Big Ring Challenge required a race license and sanctioning I would not have done them.  I just don't see the point in paying some organization to not win or earn anything seems ridiculous.  That said, I don't mind paying when the money is for a reasonably good cause.  In this case I thought it was a little overpriced considering there wasn't a shirt or even a complimentary gel or granola bar.  But I will get to that later.  The bottom line is that the money is for future advocacy and trail maintenance....the world is better.

The race started well, the first 1.5 miles were on a hardball road and it gave people time to get ahead if they wanted and there wasn't a big funnel at the trail head.  Now for the hiccup.  As stated before I probably brought the wrong bike (by probably I mean that I did).  But you know what sometimes you have to man up and run what you brung (a bad attempt to rhyme).  They echeloned the start by event.  Of course I signed up for the 3 mile 50 lap ordeal so this started first.  This would prove to be a mistake.  I should have just started in the back because my poor narrow drop bars and 40mm tires didn't give me the speed I needed on the trail.  As soon as I hit the trail I knew I was in trouble.  There were roots everywhere.  While there were no rocks and very little elevation change, the roots were devastating.  Ironically everything the guy told me the night before was mostly wrong, such as the trail being sandy and loose after a group passed through.  It wasn't bad at all.

It didn't take long for the second group to catch up with me.  "bike back" and "passing" were constant.  I clearly should have started in the back.  Eventually they thinned out and I got it, this is a race but a few were a bit rude.  I know that I looked crazy, but take it up with the race director for putting out a flier that said do all three on a CX bike.  The first lap seemed the longest as I had to move to the right and let people pass but I found a couple of people who were new to mountain biking and I followed them.  I eventually passed a couple so good on me.

The second lap was a little better, it was not until the last mile of the second lap that I was passed by the lead riders.  I found myself with a nice lady that wanted only to finish the two laps she signed up for.  She kept telling me to pass her but I declined because the moment we hit a rough patch she would pass me.  As I rounded the second lap, I stopped and grabbed a few snacks out of my car and downed a couple of Exedrin with caffeine and downed a snack and headed out for the third lap.

It was on the beginning of the third lap that I began to feel cramping.  The only difference was that the cramping was not in my legs but my triceps and hands.  Having ridden 36 miles in drop bars clinging to the hoods was taking it's toll.  It was then that I began to regret my decision.  But what choice did I have.....only one and that was to finish.  It was immediately clear that I was last.  but what do you expect from a guy that is riding a cyclocross style bike with drops and 40mm tires on a root filled single track.

I just kept cranking.  I shouted the occasional obscenity (if a guy who is on a cyclocross bike swears in the woods is there anyone around to hear him?  No!).  I just kept cranking away, root after root.  As I came in the final stretch I was glad to see that there were a couple of people hanging around and they were still running the timer.  I crossed the finish line and the lady asked me "did you see the two guys on the trail?'  "You mean I wasn't last?" was my response.  It turns out that a couple of guys (old guys) crossed for their third lap before me but stopped and took a break.  It was at that point that the guy writing down time looked at my bike and said "you did 50 miles on that?"  He looked both shocked and disgusted.  I get that look a lot.  I said "it was on the flier and I paid a lot of money!"

I had rigor mortis of the hands after this.

So there I was.  I had to break down camp and drive the 2.5 to 3 hours home, with cramping triceps and fingers that had some sort of drop bar and hood induced rigor mortis.  I went back to the tent and decided to take a quick nap.  Again, someone asked what I had done.  The common response was "50 miles on that?"  Of course when I went to my tent the vulgar and offensive people were there so I bailed on the nap and packed up and left.  Again, Infantry and combat were not as offensive as these people were.

Over the next two days I developed pain in my triceps and between my shoulder blades near the spine.  Clearly I discovered stabilizing muscles I didn't know existed.  I was pleased to have completed the race, no matter how much pain.  Would I go back next year?  That is debatable.

Again, not to sound like a curmudgeon (which I am) the group camping was a turn off for me.  I understand when you are with a group of friends you can act crazy, rude, bigoted and whip out a joint.  But the moment a newcomer has arrived I would recommend that you tone it down a touch.  Again, you are representing an organization that wants to extract upwards of $65 for entrance, $9 to drive into the recreation area, $18 to camp, and then I spent $100 on gas.  Could I recommend this to my Soldiers, absolutely not.  Would I bring co-workers and other Soldiers to the event, I couldn't because if they experienced what I did and I recommended it, they would think that I condone that behavior.  This would set a bad example.   And finally, at least throw in a complimentary gel or sticker.  Again, some could say the money goes to a good cause but a little overhead could go to swag that serves as an advertisement.  Just saying.  Sorry there are not many pictures, the nice lady taking pictures wants $20 for a digital copy.  I really miss Lanterne Rouge and his free photos.  He does it for the love.

Ok, what is next.  I am thinking the Rouge Roubaix


  1. Well that sounded grueling! I hope you're arms recover. Thoracic nerve damage is not pretty.

    1. David J, my shoulders and arms hurt for a couple of days. Misery caused by stupidity, pretty much sums up my life so far.

    2. Yeh! I totally relate to that. I'm no racer but on Friday I did a long ride in full sun with no sunscreen and am now suffering from a pretty nasty dose of sunburn. Narrowly avoided heat stroke.